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Have a Cigar: Progpower US Festival

Glenn Harveston stays true to his DIY roots while promoting the US' longest-running prog music festival.

In 2000, Glenn Harveston made a decision that would change his life. “There were no prog festivals in the US back then and no local scene where I lived in Atlanta so I would travel around to see bands,” he says. “A few of us were having beers after this one show in Baltimore, and I said I could do better. So the guys said: ‘Do it!’”

The inaugural ProgPower USA was born the following February when Harveston sold out a modest-sized venue in Chicago with a bill that included Pain Of Salvation, Symphony X and Evergrey. Harveston’s aim was to strike a balance between prog and power metal, thus introducing both sides to new music.

Back then, the internet wasn’t as prolific as it is now; social media was confined to news groups and streaming music was still a work in progress, so finding out about new bands and events took more effort. In order to get a little cross-promotion going on, Harveston hooked up with the team behind ProgPower Europe. His European sibling was a year older and able

to provide some helpful hints and tips, yet there was nothing that could have prepared this prog fan for the autumn half of his festival. “It took place two months after 911 and it almost destroyed me,” he reveals. “Bands that I’d already paid for wouldn’t fly and the tickets just stopped selling but I still wanted to try it one more time. And that’s when it just took off.”

ProgPower USA now spans across four days in Atlanta and has hosted numerous exclusive performances with the US debuts from acts like Devin Townsend, Nightwish and Kamelot. Despite his success, Glenn Harveston has remained true to the festival’s humble beginnings by refusing to move to a larger venue. He’s even turned down deals from major event promoters. This year’s event sold out over eight months ago and tickets for next year’s will go on sale later this year.

So what is the secret of his success? “For the last 15 years, I’ve only booked bands that I like!” he laughs. “I do listen to fans but I always go with my gut instincts and it works out great.”

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Natasha Scharf
Natasha Scharf

Contributing to Prog since the very first issue, writer and broadcaster Natasha Scharf was the magazine’s News Editor before she took up her current role of Deputy Editor, and has interviewed some of the best-known acts in the progressive music world from ELP, Yes and Marillion to Nightwish, Dream Theater and TesseracT. Starting young, she set up her first music fanzine in the late 80s and became a regular contributor to local newspapers and magazines over the next decade. The 00s would see her running the dark music magazine, Meltdown, as well as contributing to Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Terrorizer and Artrocker. Author of music subculture books The Art Of Gothic and Worldwide Gothic, she’s since written album sleeve notes for Cherry Red, and also co-wrote Tarja Turunen’s memoirs, Singing In My Blood. Beyond the written word, Natasha has spent several decades as a club DJ, spinning tunes at aftershow parties for Metallica, Motörhead and Nine Inch Nails. She’s currently the only member of the Prog team to have appeared on the magazine’s cover.